Well folks, competitive video games have recently made their way into the mainstream sports betting arena, now being categorized as “eSports” (electronic sports). Whether or not you can accept video games as a sport is an irrelevant question because whatever your stance is, there’s definitely a growing market for it. In fact, the market has been recording more and more betting action every year. The types of video games that have professional leagues range from multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and first person shooters (FPS) to real-time strategy, fighting games, sports games, and so on.
eSports are obviously not an athletic sport, but more of a “mind” sport. You might think playing video games is easy, but at the professional level it requires players to have superior hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and lots of practice. Football, baseball, soccer and every other traditional sport involves intricate strategic thinking to go along with precise execution. If you think about it, playing video games involves all of these elements, hence the evolution of electronic sports. There are edges available.
Where to Bet on eSports
With hundreds of millions of people around the world streaming eSports live from their computers each year, this naturally got the ball rolling towards implementing it into legalized gambling. According to Statista.com, it is not unheard of for a big championship event to receive 20 million viewers. Other sources estimate that audience for the eSports market as a whole was 235,000,000 in 2017, which was an increase of nearly 20% from 2016. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before sportsbook owners started taking note of this trend.
William Hill, working with the Downtown Grand Casino in downtown Las Vegas became the first sportsbook in the United States to get approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to allow eSports wagering.
Betting on eSports competitions and championships online is also available – and it has been for some time now. Most fans enjoy playing the same games that are featured in professional eSports leagues (most of which are played online), so it would only make sense for sportsbooks to take action online. Online sportsbooks that currently accept eSports betting can be found at sites like William Hill, Betway, Pinnacle, 10Bet, bet365, Ladbrokes, and Alphadraft.
Types of Bets
Since wagering on eSports was approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in December of 2016, betting options have been offered in a similar format to other sports that you are probably already familiar with. The most common types include moneyline, spread (handicap) and outright bets. For instance, if you were considering betting on the popular League of Legends, you could place a wager on which team will win the championship, which team(s) will be in the finals, or simply who will win an individual round of the tournament. Below we’ll go over each type of eSports bet so you can get a better understanding of how it all works.
In eSports, placing an outright bet simply means that you are wagering on one team to win the entire tournament. If you manage to pick the winning team, the odds can be anywhere from 2/1 to 25/1, depending on the team. This offers bettors the chance to win significantly more than they wager. The downside of placing outright bets on eSports is that most tournaments have at least 24 teams, and each one is stacked with the world’s best gamers. Even if you bet on the heavy favorite, an underdog could have a few good rounds and win the tournament.
Team Liquid – 3/1 (i.e. $100 wager would pay $300)
Evil Geniuses – 9/1 (i.e. $100 wager would pay $900)
Newbee – 15/1 (i.e. $100 wager would pay $1,500)
Fnatic – 22/1 (i.e. $100 wager would pay $2,200)
In our example, Team Liquid is considered to have the best odds of winning the tournament, so their payout is the least rewarding. Conversely, Fnatic is highly unlikely to win, so the payout would be much larger if they ended up winning the tournament.
Aside from betting on who will win a tournament, outright bets can also be placed on specific outcomes within the tournament. For example, you could place an outright bet on the number of games one team wins during the course of the tournament.
When it comes to eSports, moneyline bets work virtually the same as they do in all other major sports. These types of bets can be placed on the outcome of individual games.
Team Liquid (-135) vs. Evil Geniuses (+105)
Spread (Handicap) Betting
In many competitively-played video games, in order to be deemed the winner, one team must beat the other in a majority of games in a round. For example, in the League of Legends tournament, the winner is determined using a “best of 5” format, meaning the first team to win 3 games during a round advances to the next level. Because of this, some sportsbooks will offer handicaps on the heavy favorite.
Team Liquid (-1.5) vs. Evil Geniuses (+1.5)
With this type of bet, you can make multiple predictions and put them on the same betting ticket. The difficult part is you must get every single prediction right, otherwise you lose. A parlay ticket takes the individual odds of each game you are betting and multiplying their outcomes together which would give you a much bigger payout than if you had just bet each team separately. So it is a classic example of a higher risk and higher reward scenario.
If you were thinking of doing a two leg parlay, you might want to try picking a team to win at something whose chances you really love, and combine that with another pick you are also confident in. Since you have already convinced yourself the first game is a lock, in your mind it will feel like you are just getting a really great payout on the other game by attaching the no-brainer to it.
Biggest Tournaments, Championships and Games
Just like any other sport, championship games and tournaments tend to bring in the largest crowds – and consequently, the most betting action. The highest viewership ever recorded during an eSports event occurred at the 2017 Intel Extreme Masters Katowice in Poland where more than 46 million people tuned in worldwide to watch the tournament. Though that number is not the norm, an average tournament can still attract millions of viewers.
It’s not just bettors and sportsbooks who stand to gain from the rising popularity of eSports, however; large tournaments can have prize pools of $20,000,000 or more.
There are a wide range of video games with professional eSports leagues in 2018. The most common gaming system globally is (by far) PC but there are plenty of leagues available for xBox and PlayStation systems as well. Some of the most popular game titles, enjoyed by both eSports fans and bettors alike include:
– League of Legends
– Counter Strike
– DOTA 2
– Call of Duty
– Street Fighter
Performance Enhancing Drugs in eSports
If you’re familiar with prescription drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse, then you know that they boost the user’s ability to concentrate. In turn, they make a person less emotional and more logical when it comes to dealing with a certain task. As stimulants, these types of drugs can also help contain feelings of fatigue.
At this time, only the Electronic Sports League has independently disallowed the use of these types of drugs during competitions. Anyone caught using them will be expelled. The government has not outlawed any drugs yet for eSports, so for now it’s still something of an Adderall circus almost as much as it is a video game competition.
If the world of eSports is worried about people taking them seriously (to the point of acknowledging what they do as a “sport”), then it’s an issue that probably needs resolved. Just knowing the atmosphere you’re about to step into when placing a bet is so widely concerned over who can most appropriately use this focusing drug without harming themselves too much seems like it can really taint the sheer integrity of competition.